How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees in Florida
November 09, 2023
If you’re living in Florida, you’ve likely encountered the giant, buzzing insects known as carpenter bees. Despite their essential role as pollinators, these wood-boring bees can cause major damage to your property.
In this article, we’ll delve deep into carpenter bees and offer practical tips on controlling an infestation. Whether you’re worried about the structural integrity of your home or you’re just simply tired of the constant buzzing, we’ve got you covered.
- Effective carpenter bee control involves proactive measures like using treated wood, sealing and painting exposed wood, and regularly maintaining wooden structures to deter these pests.
- Employ natural deterrents like citrus peel, almond oil, borax, and Diatomaceous Earth, which are non-toxic to humans but repel or eliminate carpenter bees effectively.
- If an infestation has already occurred, seal the holes created by carpenter bees using wood filler or putty, and consider covering vulnerable areas with metal flashing.
What Is a Carpenter Bee?
A carpenter bee is a member of the bee family known as Xylocopinae (or Xylocopa spp), which includes over 500 species worldwide. Don’t confuse them with the friendly, fuzzy bumble bees busily buzzing around your garden - these are the hefty, hardworking renegades of the bee world.
There are two variations of this species of carpenter Bee:
- Eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica)
- Southern carpenter bee (Xylocopa micans)
Sporting large mandibles and a sturdy thorax, these solitary bees are known for their distinctive nesting habits. Unlike honey bees or wasps that live in large colonies, each female carpenter bee excavates her own nest in dead trees, eaves, wood pulp, or other wooden structures to create carpenter bee nests. And they don’t dine on wood but rather leave behind sawdust or “frass” as they drill tunnels and chambers for their larvae.
Don’t let their tough exterior fool you, though. Male carpenter bees are all bark and no bite - literally. They may buzz around you to defend their territory, but without a stinger, they’re harmless. It’s the females you need to watch out for, armed with a stinger and not afraid to use it when threatened.
What Are the Signs of a Carpenter Bee Infestation?
Carpenter bees are stealthy creatures, but there are telltale signs of their presence if you know what to look for. Here’s what you should be alert to:
- Buzzing Sounds: You’ll likely hear a faint, consistent buzzing sound emanating from wooden structures. This sound is not just your typical bee buzz; it’s akin to a miniature construction site, a testament to the carpenter bee’s industrious nature.
- Sawdust: You’ll see tiny piles of sawdust or “frass” below the holes they’ve been drilling. It’s as if they’re mocking you, leaving a breadcrumb trail of their wood-chewing shenanigans.
- Holes in Wood: You’ll notice perfectly round holes, about the diameter of your little finger, in the wood around your property. These entrances to their tunnels are meticulously crafted, proving their refined carpentry skills.
- Hovering Bees: Male carpenter bees are territorial and often seen hovering around nest sites. They give new meaning to the term “helicopter parent,” as they diligently guard the nest entrance against potential invaders.
- Woodpecker Damage: Woodpeckers love carpenter bee larvae, and if they’ve found the nests, your wood damage could be magnified by their pecking.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees
While it might seem unconventional, some people have reported success in deterring carpenter bees by playing loud music. The theory is that carpenter bees, like other members of the Hymenoptera order (which includes ants, wasps, and bees), have a Johnston's organ that is sensitive to vibrations. Loud noises may create uncomfortable vibrations in this organ, potentially encouraging the bees to find a quieter location.
However, it's important to note that this method is not fully verified, and results can vary. If you decide to try this approach, be mindful of your neighbors and local noise ordinances.
These ingenious gadgets work by exploiting the bee’s natural nesting habits. Made from simple wooden boxes with holes drilled upward, they trick the bees into entering, thinking they’ve found the perfect home. Once inside, the poor, unsuspecting critters tumble down into a glass jar, from which there is no escape. It’s like a bee version of a roach motel - they may check in, but never check out!
Non-Toxic Bee Treatment
If you’re looking for a gentler way to bid farewell to your buzzing guests, natural repellents might be your best bet. Certain scents like citrus, peppermint, and even the aroma of your morning cup of vanilla coffee can send them packing in search of a less fragrant abode. Spread these scents around your home, especially near their favorite drilling spots, and you’ll soon have the satisfaction of seeing them beat a hasty retreat.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is derived from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. This natural powder is generally safe for humans and pets but can harm many insects. When insects like carpenter bees come into contact with DE, it may cause damage to their exoskeleton and lead to dehydration. While DE can be an option for managing pests, its effectiveness, specifically against carpenter bees, is not thoroughly documented.
If you opt to try this method, apply the powder into the carpenter bees' holes, taking care to follow any product-specific guidelines.
If you’re planning on doing any home renovations or building new wooden structures, you’ve got a golden opportunity to strike a pre-emptive blow against potential carpenter bees. Using pressure-treated wood or applying a coat of paint or varnish to your wooden surfaces can help deter these determined drillers. You see, carpenter bees have discerning tastes; they prefer raw, untreated wood.
Treated wood, on the other hand, sends them packing faster than a disappointing dinner date. So, roll up your sleeves, grab that paintbrush, and give your wood the protective armor it needs. At a minimum, they’ll think twice about burrowing their nest into your treated wood.
Almond Oil and Borax
Unleash your inner alchemist with a concoction that will have carpenter bees buzzing off in no time! This simple yet potent mix of almond oil and borax creates a natural deterrent that’s easy to whip up in your kitchen. You see, carpenter bees find the scent of almond oil repugnant, while borax acts as a proven insecticide.
Whisk together equal parts of both ingredients and voila - you have an effective, eco-friendly, bee-repelling potion. Brush this mixture liberally over areas of concern and watch in satisfaction as your home transforms from a bee-attracting hotspot to a no-fly zone.
How to Keep Carpenter Bees from Coming Back
- Seal and Paint Wood. One of the most effective methods for keeping carpenter bees at bay is to seal and paint all exposed wood around your home. Make sure to fill any cracks or crevices where these persistent pests can find a place to lay their eggs. Then, give your wood surfaces a fresh coat of paint or varnish, making them less attractive and accessible to potential bee invaders.
- Fill and Seal Holes. If you’ve already had a run-in with carpenter bees and have holes to show for it, don’t fret. You can still prevent future infestations by filling and sealing these openings. Use a wood filler or putty to plug the holes, then sand and paint over them for added protection.
- Hang Traps. As mentioned earlier, carpenter bee traps can be an effective solution for managing these insects. Hang them near areas where you’ve noticed bee activity, and remember to check and empty them regularly.
- Stainless Steel or Metal Flashing. Carpenter bees aren’t fans of shiny, reflective surfaces. So, adding a layer of stainless steel or metal flashing to vulnerable areas can be an effective deterrent against these buzzing bugs.
- Regular Maintenance. Regular maintenance is key to keeping carpenter bees from becoming a recurring issue. Inspect your wooden surfaces and structures periodically, seal any potential entry points, and attend to any holes or damage immediately. By staying on top of things, you can ensure these busybodies don’t overstay their welcome.
- Remove Decaying or Water-Damaged Wood. Carpenter bees prefer soft, decaying, or water-damaged wood to burrow into. By removing any of these types of wood from your property, you’re essentially taking away their ideal nesting spots.
Carpenter Bee Exterminator in West Palm Beach, Florida
If you’re still struggling to manage a carpenter bee infestation, it might be time to call the experts. In West Palm Beach, Florida, Native Pest Management offers comprehensive pest control services that include targeted treatments for carpenter bees. So don’t let those pesky bees take over - contact us today and let us help you protect your home and keep these hardworking drillers at bay!